Peter de Graaf stays at The Rees Hotel, Luxury Apartments and Lakeside Residences, Queenstown
Location: Next to Lake Wakatipu, 2km from central Queenstown or 6km from the airport.
Style: Understated luxury with a distinctly Kiwi flavour.
Perfect for: A getaway with every creature comfort in New Zealand's adventure capital.
First impressions: I arrived late so I was whisked straight to my room by staff for whom nothing was too much trouble. They really were superb — ultra-helpful without being obsequious — and seemed delighted any time I showed up with a request.
Style: Understated luxury and unashamedly New Zealand with lots of exposed timber and schist. The Rees is a large, modern place — it opened in 2009 — but doesn't feel anything like those big, soulless chain hotels.
The reception area is dominated by hefty timber beams, a library, a huge portrait of the eponymous William Rees, and of course the view across to the Remarkables. You may spot the boss wandering around in shorts and T-shirt — it's that kind of place. Flash but also down to Earth.
In case you were wondering, William Rees was an early European settler, credited with founding Queenstown. You'll see him everywhere, always sporting a massive beard making him the envy of any modern-day hipster.
Rooms: The Rees has 60 hotel rooms and 90 serviced apartments. Each apartment has a kitchen, laundry, balcony, fireplace and up to three bedrooms.
I was booked into an executive lake view hotel room which gave me a king-size bed (custom-made to the hotel's specs by Sleepyhead), a lounge area, the usual accoutrements such as a minibar, a TV with a choice of 200 movies, and a generous balcony overlooking the lake and the Remarkables with sunset views to die for.
Though the main road isn't far away the only sound I heard was the odd jet boat scooting across the lake.
If you really want to treat yourself — or you've just won Lotto — you could follow the example of pop star Taylor Swift or the King of Jordan and book one of The Rees' five lakefront villas, each with three en suite bedrooms, a jacuzzi and a garage. The villas are fully self-contained but you can still call on all the services of the hotel, or even order your own butler.
Bathroom: The highlight of my bathroom was unquestionably the spa bath, positioned by a large window offering that view again. So, after an exhausting day of skiing, shopping or bungy jumping, you can be gently pummelled by water jets while soaking up the scenery as the sun sinks behind the mountains.
Toiletries are Forest & Bird Botanicals, supporting the work of the environmental organisation.
Food and drink: I landed late but that didn't mean I had to go hungry, thanks to the all-night room service menu. I opted for a pizza washed down with a craft beer from the minibar.
At the other end of the scale, The Rees' restaurant, True South Dining Room, specialises in fresh, local ingredients, and has won a raft of New Zealand and international awards. Executive chef Corey Hume was named 2020 Hotel Chef of the Year for the Australasia/Pacific region by Hotel Management Magazine.
True South's wine cellar, another regular award winner, is one of the best-stocked in the nation with $1 million worth of wine, mostly from France, New Zealand and Australia. In case you're curious the most expensive bottle is a 2004 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, a Burgundy with a $42,000 price tag.
Facilities: High-speed wi-fi, undercover parking, a free hourly shuttle to town, a well-equipped gym, bike hire, a private jetty, and a concierge service offering a range of activities and private tours. How about a heli-crayfish tour?
In the neighbourhood: Lovely Lake Wakatipu and the Frankton Track, a popular cycle/walking trail from Frankton to the town centre, are directly in front of the hotel. It's a scenic, shady 25-minute walk to town along the lakeside. There's also a wharf where you can catch a water taxi or try your luck catching a trout.
The myriad attractions of Queenstown — jet boating, skiing, steamboat trips on the Earnslaw and the legendary Fergburger, to name a few — are a short walk or shuttle ride away.
Family friendly: The self-contained apartments, with kitchen and laundry facilities, are ideal for families. Babysitters can be arranged if Mum and Dad want to disappear to the ski slopes.
Accessibility: Wheelchair-accessible rooms are available.
Sustainability: The Rees runs a raft of environmental initiatives. They include providing milk in reusable glass bottles from a Southland dairy farm; recycling leftover soap via the Soap Aid programme for developing countries; composting kitchen waste through the Waste to Wilderness initiative; and energy efficiency measures such as the recent installation of a new, low-energy air conditioning system.
The Rees has five-star Enviro Gold accreditation from Qualmark. In 2018 and 2020 it was named the world's best urban accommodation in the Skal international sustainable tourism awards.
For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.
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